After five years the decomposed granite (that many of us in the desert use as a ground cover instead of water-guzzling grass) had dug itself into the dirt, so a reapplication was due.  I started last Sunday digging out the area between the sidewalk and the street, the other side of the sidewalk, and the edge of the driveway to 2” deep, carting the dirt to eroded areas, as my house is built into a hill.

Monday I measured the area to determine the amount of rock needed, 2” deep.  25’ x 17’ x 1/6’ ~ 71 cubic feet.  I divided by 9 to determine cubic yards, approximately 8, and, taking a handful of rock from my neighbor for a sample color, I drove to the closest sand and gravel business which I have used many times in the past.

The youngster there (who looked about 16) immediately named the brown color, although I could barely tell the difference between three of the brown samples laid out in boxes in front of the office area, and he explained that the order would be in tons.  8 cubic yards equals 10 tons.  It seemed like a lot of money, but I arranged for delivery the next morning.

At 4:30 that afternoon, all of a sudden my brain declared that 1 cu yd = 27 cu ft, not 9!  (You’d never know I used to be a math teacher!  The brain really does slow down with Age.)  I immediately called the sand and gravel place, which, unfortunately, had closed at four, and left a voice mail.

The next morning, not having received a call back from the business, I called again, and spoke with the youngster.  I told him about my miscalculation and explained what Age does to the brain.  Turns out that I am older than his grandmother!  He got a good laugh out of that.

Later that morning the truck arrived with my refund and only 3 ½ tons (!) of rock which it dumped into my front yard.  It was a beautiful day, 70°, so in a t-shirt and shorts I started shoveling.  My next-door neighbor had his garage door open to use his shop, so I stopped to chat about the Birding trip he and his wife had taken on the Rio Grande; and he lent me his wheelbarrow to move the rock down the side of the house.

His wife came out a few hours later to get the mail, and looked with astonishment at the rock pile.  You’re not going to move all of that yourself?  I volunteered that she could help, and skip a day at the gym, but she declined, noting that she had gotten her exercise playing golf that morning.

I took a lunch break, and a couple of pain killers, but by three my latissimus dorsi muscles couldn’t take any more.  And I’d only moved about a third of the pile.

Wednesday, even after double painkillers, my muscles still hurt like the dickens, so I was glad that it rained, and that I had a date with three friends to see the Ansel Adams show at the art museum along with lunch.

This morning, Thursday, dawned with a bright blue sky and only a few clouds huddling around the mountains.  Back to the rock!  A man came to read the electric meter reader and I offered to switch jobs with him.  He explained that he was already mixing concrete at his house, as if that were the only reason not to trade!  The mail deliverer came by and we discussed my work.  She said that her front yard was just caliche (concrete from the landing pads the ancient Indians made for extraterrestrial landings) and nothing grew.  The roadrunner stopped by.  I could hear him coming with that ratchety sound they make as their tails go up and down mechanically.  I had my usual one-way conversation with him as he perked his head at me.  And the gravel delivery truck stopped by.  The driver was delivering down the street, but kidded that he had another load for me.

But after a grueling day, I am done!

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